How To Maintain Your Kid`s Native Language After Moving Abroad
Losing the ability to speak the language of your native country can be a nightmare for any expat parent who moves abroad, particularly when children are young. But can you forget a language? The general opinion is that yes, it is possible. Kids tend to experience complete language attrition, a linguistic term which explains the weakening or loss of a language with time. However, recent research shows that adults usually maintain remnants of languages which are thought to be lost. Once you learn a language, the stage in your brain is set and it’s hard to dismantle it easily.
Let`s see how you can maintain your kid`s native language even after moving abroad-
Speak to your kids in mother tongue at home to encourage native language retention.
Expat parents coming to a new country may feel the need to completely immerse themselves in their new language—therefore speaking in the language as much as possible—while parents hailing from two different places may have a third language in which they converse at home.
Speaking in your native language at home with your children improves their ability to maintain a grasp on the language and facilitates a deeper connection to their roots, culture and country. This can be especially useful when children attend an international school where the language of instruction is often English.
Enrol your child in a school which also offers mother tongue education
The language of many international schools is usually English. When international schools gives priority to mother tongue education which encourages children to maintain their skills in their first language and helps improve cognitive development creating a language-learning foundation.
Besides, mother tongue education has shown additional benefits beyond language learning; children tend to learn better overall and also have better social skills when the language of instruction is in their native language.
Use media to your advantage.
Parents do not approve of their child down in front of the television; however, did you know that media can be a great tool in assisting the retention of native language in young minds? Media, especially educational television programmes, help children two years and older learn new words and add them to their vocabulary. Children younger than two may require interaction in order to learn new words and here is where the role of other media comes to use. Music is always a great addition to the classroom. Teaching your children lullabies, nursery rhymes and children’s songs from your native country works— better if there are clapping games to go along with them! Not only do songs help teach sounds to children, the interaction of these games, with the repetitive tunes, will make speaking in native language more fun and less of a chore.
Spend time in your native country.
It may be an expensive but still it is one of the best ways to learn a language. Letting your children get an exposure of your native country (during school breaks) help them reconnect with their roots and culture.
Last but not the least, do not get frustrated.
It is important to know that learning and speaking your native language is a positive and enjoyable experience. Remember that children should associate their native language with happiness and not with fear or embarrassment.
After a few years of living as an expat, if you notice that your children are beginning to lose connection with their native language(s), have no fear: studies showed that adults who lost their ability to speak their native languages were able to learn them again later and much more quickly than before Although you can never completely lose a mother tongue, you can certainly take steps and ensure that it never fades.
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